Jack and Ianto hadn’t wanted to make a huge fuss about getting married, so in the end they’d opted for a small ceremony with just their closest friends and Ianto’s family in attendance. To be honest, arranging a lavish event would have been completely impractical, what with the Rift’s habit of always interrupting in one way or another. They only had to think back to Gwen’s wedding to remember how effortlessly Torchwood could screw up even the most carefully laid plans. It was a price ever member of the team had to pay from time to time in order to protect Cardiff, and sometimes the whole world, from things the majority of twenty-first century humans simply weren’t equipped to deal with, and they’d all long since accepted they’d never have what other people considered a normal life.
The happy couple would have been perfectly content with a quick registry office wedding, they didn’t need more than that to make their union official in the eyes of the law, but Tosh and Gwen had been appalled at the very idea.
“That’s not a wedding! It’s just signing a piece of paper!” Gwen had exclaimed. “Don’t you want your friends to celebrate with you?”
“Gwen has a point; this should be one of the happiest days of your life!” Tosh had agreed. “When you look back on your wedding years from now you should have lots of happy memories, not just a quick in and out in front of witnesses…” She’d trailed off, blushing slightly. “That didn’t quite come out right, did it?”
“I don’t know,” Jack had said, grinning, “I’m all for a quick in and out, with or without witnesses.”
Ianto had rolled his eyes. “Thankfully I lack Jack’s exhibitionist tendencies. At least one of us needs to have some sense of decorum, if only to avoid being arrested for lewd behaviour in public.”
“That does tend to put a damper on proceedings,” Jack had agreed, before Tosh had steered the conversation back on track.
“Well anyway, what I meant is, you don’t want to have regrets later about not having a proper wedding. You don’t have to go over the top, but you should at least think about having a small ceremony with a few guests and a bit of a party afterwards. You two deserve to have a special day, Torchwood and the Rift permitting.”
“Tosh is right, a wedding should be special; it’s a happy occasion. I have lovely memories of mine.” Gwen smiled wryly. “It’s a shame the guests don’t, but… Well, we’re Torchwood; we can’t have everything, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”
So instead of the registry office, Tosh had arranged for a small pavilion to be erected on the green in front of the castle, because it was Ianto’s favourite Cardiff landmark and made the perfect romantic setting for a wedding. After all the times Torchwood had saved it from theft, destruction, and other similar catastrophes, the whole team felt rather protective of the majestic old building, it was a priceless example of Welsh heritage. As Tosh said when she suggested having the wedding there, at least if something happened to it on the day, they’d be right on hand to deal with the crisis.
The day of the wedding dawned bright and sunny, as if Cardiff herself was putting on all her finery to celebrate the union of two of her protectors. Ianto actually dared to hope that maybe they might make it through the ceremony, and possibly even the reception afterwards, without any serious disasters.
Arriving outside the castle, the team took their places with Ianto’s sister and her husband in the couple of rows of folding chairs that had been set up earlier, alongside the handful of other guests. Martha and Tom had travelled up from London for the occasion, bringing with them Martha’s parents and her sister Tish. Kathy Swanson was there too, mostly because she and Ianto had become quite friendly over the last couple of years, although she was also getting along better with Jack these days, now she knew what Torchwood was really all about.
Once everyone was seated, soft music began to play. Everyone turned to watch as Jack and Ianto, resplendent in perfectly tailored matching suits, made their entrance from opposite sides of the pavilion. Their flower girls, Anwen and Mica, followed them as they came to stand side by side in front of the woman who would be officiating the ceremony. David, looking a bit uncomfortable in his suit, stepped forward to join them; he was the ring bearer, while Ianto had asked Tosh to be his best woman… There was just one member of the wedding party missing; typically, it looked like Jack’s best man was late.
Just as the wedding was about to start without him, the Doctor charged into the pavilion, out of breath and grinning maniacally.
“Are we late?” he panted, skidding to a halt beside Jack. “We are, aren’t we? Sorry about that, would’ve been here sooner; had a devil of a job getting the squinches for the ceremony. You have no idea how hard it is finding good squinches on short notice… Can’t have a wedding without squinches though, not if you want to do it properly.” He spun around to face the rear of the pavilion as his current companions staggered in, lugging a heavy crate between them. “Just put them over there, Ponds!” He directed the young man and woman to set their burden down at the back of the tent. “Remember what I told you to do…”
“We remember!” the red-haired woman exclaimed, breathless and exasperated. “You’ve told us enough times. What are squinches anyway?”
“You’ll see!” The Doctor clapped his hands together. “Oh, this is going to perfect, a day you’ll never forget!” He was practically bouncing with excitement.
The officiator looked from Jack to Ianto, and back again, taking in the rest of the people standing in front of her and lingering briefly on the Doctor. Ianto couldn’t blame her; the Time Lord took a bit of getting used to at the best of times, he’d never really mastered the art of being inconspicuous. “Are we ready now?” she asked, sounding a bit dubious.
“Yes, yes, we’re ready! What are you waiting for? Get on with it!” The Doctor stood to attention at Jack’s side, beaming happily. He was wearing a fez decorated with tinsel, a tuxedo with tails, and what looked to Ianto like spats.
Clearing her throat, the officiator began the ceremony. “Ladies and… gentlemen, family and friends, honoured guests, we are gathered here today to witness the union of these two men, Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones, and to celebrate with them the beginning of their life together as husbands.”
The wedding went forward surprisingly smoothly, with the traditional vows and the exchange of rings, and then just as Jack and Ianto were proclaimed husband and husband and they were about to share their first kiss as a married couple, the crate was opened…
There was a flurry of wings as its contents exploded upwards and outwards, scattering throughout the pavilion, whereupon half the guests started screaming and covering their heads as forty or fifty brightly coloured and multi-tentacled squinches fluttered around them on their leathery little wings. They looked like a bizarre cross between bats and tiny octopods, and they were chirping and peeping with happiness as they swirled around the guests.
Ianto sighed and face-palmed, groaning in despair; trust the Doctor to turn a simple wedding ceremony into a three-ring circus. Then again, what had he really expected; for everything to go smoothly from start to finish? He should have known something like this would happen; once again carefully thought out plans had devolved into the chaos of a typical Torchwood wedding.
The Doctor was oblivious, watching the squinches. “Aren’t they wonderful? They come from the planet Vermoolia, where they symbolise long life, health, and prosperity! I thought of using flamingos, but they can be a bit skittish, and they don’t sing. Squinches just seemed a better choice.”
“Very nice, now how do we get them all back in their crate?” Ianto asked.
“Why would you want to do that?” The Doctor sounded mystified.
“Because they’re alien, we’re in a tent, and the last ting we need is to spend the rest of the day chasing squinches around Cardiff. Besides, they’re alarming the guests.”
“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that; they won’t fly away.”
“They’re eating the flowers,” Jack pointed out.
“Ah, well, they’ve travelled a long way. Bound to be a bit peckish.”
“Didn’t you feed them?” Ianto frowned at the Time Lord.
“Of course I did! There just wasn’t time to feed them again when we got here because we were running a bit late.”
Ianto still couldn’t understand quite how someone who travelled in time could ever be late, but he had other things on his mind right now. He nudged his husband. “Don’t suppose you brought some Retcon with you by any chance?”
Jack blinked at him. “What for? Everyone here has seen weirder things than this.”
“One person hasn’t.” Ianto pointed behind him.
The wedding officiator was standing frozen to the spot, just staring open-mouthed at the squinches, an expression of horrified fascination on her face.
“Oh.” Jack grinned sheepishly. “Owen?”
“On it. Should be some in my kit, I’ll just nip out to my car and get it. Nice wedding, by the way. Very entertaining.” The medic was smirking as he made his way out of the pavilion.
“Well, I think it’s safe to say you won’t forget this in a hurry,” Tosh giggled as several squinches swarmed over her bouquet in a feeding frenzy.
“I suppose we should all be thankful they’re not carnivores. Shame about the flowers though; they were lovely.” A squinch landed lightly on his shoulder, creeping downwards to devour the rosebud in his buttonhole and Ianto sighed again, smiling wryly and shaking his head.
Yes, this was a day he definitely wouldn’t be forgetting any time soon, no matter how hard he tried.